It's showtime! MyMeeting! plus grassroots war memorials

"Tables, chairs & oaken chests," indeed! Looky! www.sanfrancisco.com/jesus-christ-superstar/

From the look of it on the web page, it's not as over-the-top as the London revival production of JC Superstar Robin & I saw for my birthday a few years ago at the same theater. I enjoyed that one. I'm not sure it's in our budget this year.
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I was looking for an explanation of how to do a Google map mashup for work. I stumbled across the MyChurch site and thought I'd offer it here in case you want to add your meeting/church. Might be interesting, or might just lead to a lot of spam. Here 'tis: www.mychurch.org/info/faq.php

(Your meeting is already listed at www.quakerfinder.org, right?)
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I liked Christian Parenti's essay about the Iraq Study Group's report. Quote: "And though it is written in polite, obfuscating Beltway vernacular, the report offers up a devastating critique of the Bush Administration's Middle East foreign policy. Most provocative, it correctly links Iraq's meltdown to a solution in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict; these days that sort of suggestion is downright subversive. The right-wingers hate this report so passionately because they actually understand what it is saying."

Does the new majority in Congress understand it, too?
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From today's Chronicle: "Nighttime vandals late Tuesday or early Wednesday defaced the sign accompanying crosses planted on a Lafayette hillside as a memorial to American soldiers slain in Iraq."
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And news of another Iraq memorial, in Santa Barbara: "The toll of war is measured here on an acre of Pacific sand, where each Sunday volunteers array handmade wooden crosses in regimental columns to honor U.S. service members lost in Iraq.... The group of veterans that organizes the weekly tribute has decided to stop adding crosses because it is struggling to keep pace with the tally of death."
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Lord, forgive us, we know not what we are doing. (Me included.) Open our hearts up to one another, that we may have compassion and kindness. Send the Comforter to all who need Your presence in the midst of their suffering. And please take good care of Peggy Senger Parsons and her trauma healing students, okay? Thanks!


Children and mealtime grace

For some time, I have been planning to write something about the way our family has grace before meals.

Then we got an email from Kathleen Karhnak, Central Philadelphia Monthly Meeting, about the Phila YM Children's Religious Education Program's newsletter. She has an article in the latest issue.

Kathleen's article is wonderful. It's called Foundations for Children in Quaker Worship (pdf). Here's an excerpt:
Something that’s helped me is paying attention to fostering my child’s noticing those feelings of joy and connectedness, sometimes following his cues instead of expecting him to follow mine. For example, my 2 year old son was beginning to resent family mealtime worship. Why should we just sit here in silence when there’s food RIGHT THERE waiting to be eaten? We now have, in addition to quiet thank-filled worship, a sung grace followed by clapping and exclaiming, “Yay, God!” The clapping was introduced by Tim and we joined in. It’s now a permanent part of grace. My son seems to have that feeling of joy, love, and connectedness during grace now that I remember from my childhood and which is also part of my adult experience of worship. And it’s okay, too, if he samples some of the food while giving thanks for it!
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In our family the four of us take turns, from youngest to oldest, choosing one of several options: Silence, speak a prayer, or sing a prayer. The songs are usually a chorus of "All Creatures Great and Small," "The George Fox Song," "The Appleseed Song (Johnny Appleseed's prayer)," or maybe "Simple Gifts." We end by squeezing hands and saying "amen" -- unless it's the four year old's turn. He is adamant that we not say "amen" when it's his turn!

We frequently forget to have grace until we've already started. Sometimes almost finished!

Our eight year old usually calls for silence. Lately he has been closing his eyes and bowing his head. He sometimes lets it go on for a while. For a long time, when someone chose silence, our four year old would smack his lips or whine that he didn't want silence. If he was leading grace that night, the eight year old would doggedly persist until we got at least four or five seconds of silence.

One evening, when we were particularly tense or tired or both, I called out, "Laughing." So we did. It was wonderfully cleansing and joyful -- and funny! For most of a year afterwards, Four Year Old asked for laughing pretty much every turn he had. It was less and less funny for the rest of us, but he was having fun, so we forced out some guffaws for his sake.

Another time there was lobbying from various small parties about what I should choose, so I called for each of us to pick something. After that, Four Year Old wanted to pick "everyone choose" each time.

He's making progress. At the end of November, we were almost done with dinner when the 4 y.o. said, "We forgot grace!" So we had end-of-meal grace.

Then on his next turn a few days later, he actually chose silence. The silence didn't last long before he squeezed our hands to signal the end -- and we didn't say "amen," of course -- but it's what he chose. Yay!
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  • Do you have a practice of mealtime grace?
  • What gives you joy that makes you say, "Yay, God"?
  • Do your spiritual practices help you center and appreciate the gifts of life? Do you ever feel as if your usual practices are just keeping you from the spiritual food that God has put RIGHT THERE on the table?


Episcopalian leader arrested during SF antiwar protest

Breaking news on the San Francisco Chronicle's website, SFGate.com:
Episcopalian leader arrested during SF antiwar protest

Newly elected bishop, Mark Andrus, gets arrested outside the building where Rep. Nancy Pelosi's office is. The die-in was David Hartsough's idea. Many thanks again to Stephen, Markley, and Friends for continuing the vigil for peace outside the San Francisco Federal Office Building for over five years now.

Update: Here's the story from today's print Chronicle: Click here.


Guest post: Kristina's queries on membership in the RSOF

Kristina Perry gave me permission to lift up her comments on my post "So you want to be a Quaker!" to be a guest post. I invite your answers to her questions, as well as your broader thoughts and responses on membership, especially in your own experience. -- Chris M.
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I haven't had a lot of time, since coming here to ESR, to be hanging out in BLOGland but, I recently tuned in to the conversations to see what Friends are saying about Membership.

The subject of membership, and particularly membership for Friends who are mobile, is much on my mind.

I know this is not the topic of your brochure, Chris, but -- I too wonder, so what does membership *mean*? Or what qualifies you: relationships that are active or proximity?

PhilaYM says:

"Members express their care for one another in many ways. They support one another's spiritual journeys. They participate in the intimate joys and sorrows of birth, marriage, death, and other rites of passage. Members facing important decisions receive counseling, as in the case of those contemplating marriage or those who are facing decisions about the military. At times of distress, the Meeting responds with the appropriate support, and, if needed, makes referrals to professional care-givers. A Meeting assumes responsibility for helping members resolve their differences. It responds to the special needs of the young and the elderly, and of new members, prospective members, and members at a distance.

"All members share the duty and privilege of caring for one another."

While our own PacYM states:

"Membership establishes a commitment between the individual and the Religious Society of Friends within the framework of a particular Monthly Meeting. Membership implies that, for each member, the Religious Society of Friends provides the most promising home for spiritual enlightenment and growth. It commits a person to the daily pursuit of truth after the manner of Friends, and commits the Meeting to support the member in that pursuit. Membership represents the outward recognition of unity with other members of the Religious Society of Friends and a commitment to cherish and share in the living tradition. "

Here's the source of my question: Callid and I just sent a letter requesting that our Meeting/s form a committee to sit with us regarding marriage clearness. We sent it to Rochester MM (NYYM) and to Humboldt MM (PacYM). Realistically, these meetings are Thousands of Miles Apart! How do they jointly "take us under their care"? I have not been resident in Humboldt for years. I have spent more time worshipping with Rochester and have been offered support for discerning emerging ministry that Callid and I share.

In the PhilaYM definition - ROC is more of a Meeting Community of accountability and care. I don't fit any of PacYM's geographic qualifications with Humboldt. Do I transfer my membership?

Does anyone know of other discussions on the relevance of geography vs. active accountability on membership and spiritual home?

Much Love -- Kristina